OPINION: Our Democratic Duty

By Martin O'Malley, Governor

On Tuesday, November 4, citizens in Maryland and around the nation will participate in one of freedom's greatest privileges, to vote for the next President of the United States and the direction of our nation in this critical time. In this historic election, much is at stake for Maryland and for our nation. State and local Board of Elections officials are preparing for the expected high voter turnout in Maryland, to ensure that no voter is unduly burdened while carrying out their democratic right to vote:

-- Additional voting units and electronic poll books have been deployed to local boards of elections to meet the anticipated increase in voters, including strategic placement of additional equipment in areas with a large increase in registrations.

-- All of the counties report that they are prepared with sufficient numbers of Election Judges for Election Day, to appropriately assist voters in need of help.

-- The State Board of Elections has conducted additional oversight of the pre-election preparations of the local boards including careful review of equipment and supplies, registration system audits, and the development of an emergency management contact system should problems arise.

-- MEMA's Joint Operations Center will be staffed with additional personnel on Election Day in the event of any problems, including weather-related emergencies, for the State Emergency Operations Center to be swiftly activated to coordinate the use of state resources to support local first responders.

Democracy is not merely procedural, however. It is better served by an informed electorate. Follow these simple tips as you prepare to vote:

-- Visit the State Board of Elections website, www.elections.state.md.us, for your polling location, registration status, and to print a sample ballot prior to Election Day. Or call 1-800-222-VOTE.

-- Maryland polls are open November 4 from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm. To avoid delays, voters are encouraged to vote between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Because of the challenges we face, we must commit together to protecting our shared priorities in order to expand opportunity to more Marylanders, rather than fewer. One way to ensure that our commitment to Maryland's future is fulfilled for years to come is by voting to approve Question two on November 4. This very limited, moderate, state-controlled proposal would pump more than $660 million in slots revenue into our schools, and renew our promise to Maryland's future even in difficult economic times. Elections matter. Be sure your voice is heard on November 4.

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